Thursday, February 10, 2011

Leafy Impressionism ~ Exploration Thursdays!

"Concert of Color"
(1/25sec @ F/13, ISO 125, 23mm fl into zoom, 18-55mm Nikkor kit lens, remote shutter, overcast)

Welcome to Exploration Thursdays! This will be the one day of the week I can let my hair down and explore the more creative sides of photography. There will be anything from playing with slow exposures and playing right in the camera, to experimenting in the digital darkroom, to having guest bloggers and new tips for you all to be trying at home! Sound good? Cool. So let's have our first fun Thursday!

My first image featured for these Thursdays is a personal fave, and I don't think I've really had a chance to showcase it yet... I'm considering having it printed on canvas actually. I took this while scouting for photo ops for my Parks job this past fall. The light that day was very bland, but it was great for macro/close-up type shots of the flora and fauna just flourishing in the beds. But you know me, I HAVE to look up too... and I happened to be standing under a blazing Maple Tree. It's leaves were barely moving in the whisper of a breeze but I could tell one good stiff wind, and down they'd come. It doesn't matter how old you are, falling leaves evoke days of jumping in crunchy piles being raked, and pressing the biggest most colorful ones into crafts or into big books for safe keeping.

Looking up into the giant canopy, I decided I needed to portray how I felt, and not just how all the leaves "looked". I also knew to do that, that I needed to think outside the box on this one. One of my favorite Canadian nature photographers is Freeman Patterson (I know, I've mentioned him before) because he sees nature as something to explore emotionally once he understands the intricate ways it grows and lives. His images convey energy, motion, and poetry. And I think his in-camera manipulations are some of the most beautiful and inspirational I've ever seen. So I looked up into the tree and thought, "now how would Mr. Patterson approach this?"

One of the most fun things you can do with your camera is to create a sense of motion, and you don't need photoshop or special gear for it. All you need is a slower exposure time and a sense of anticipation, cause you never know what your lens is going to capture! There are several ways to achieve these cool abstract effects - slow your shutter speed down and while taking a picture swing the camera around, jump up or down, or use your zoom lenses. Zoom in or out as the shutter snaps to
 accentuate length or height, to emulate something speeding by, or something rushing towards you as I did above. Then do it several times, changing your speeds, your views, and your lighting.

I used my tripod and remote shutter release for this shot, simply because I wanted my hands free to carefully zoom up into the leaves overhead with my kit lens without the camera wobbling. And it took a few tries before I realized where I liked seeing the branch peeking through the composition a bit, as well as one or two more discernible leaf shapes in the mix to hint at the subject. All that was left to do with the shot when I got home was improve the saturation levels a bit more so the color was bolder and that was it.

I now officially have a "theme" for every day of the week! I'm excited to see if I can find ways to challenge myself every week... and I'd love if you folks out there wanted to practice each different theme with me! Send me links to your best results and I'll post them here! Let's inspire and motivate each other! Thanks for letting me ramble on about all this, and make sure you all have a fabulous day! See you tomorrow for another "Floral Friday". 


  1. A stunner, I have not seen this one yet. I have tried this several times with limited success. The one I have had success on was a photo of a Christmas tree with lights on it. This made it look like the tree was exploding outward. However it was taken on film and I am not quite sure where the print is to show you..

  2. Thanks Dave! These are so much fun... just head out, find a group of bare trees standing densly in the early morning light or fog, and swing the camera up... instant art! I'd love to see the christmas tree shot if you ever do find it... those always seem so festive!